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Missing Potential Earth-Busting Asteroid Found

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the that's-a-froo dept.

Space 80

Billosaur writes "A potentially disastrous 40-year-old mystery has been solved: Where is asteroid 6344 P-L? Back in 1960, asteroid 6344 P-L was identified and classified as a 'Potentially Hazardous Asteroid,' meaning that its orbit brings it perilously close to Earth's orbit (on the cosmic scale). Unfortunately, it then disappeared, or more precisely, was lost from view. Flash forward to 2007 and scientists believe that 6344 P-L has been rediscovered as 2007 RR9. Further, they are not sure it is an actual asteroid, but actually a comet fragment, which won't hit the Earth anytime soon but bears watching."

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That Close! (5, Funny)

treyTTU (931851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871007)

Close in astronomic scale and we just "lost" it for a while, like, perhaps we took our eye off the ball?

Re:That Close! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871027)

I almost got first post!

Re:That Close! (1)

s4ck (895807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871365)

on an astronomical scale...

Re:That Close! (3, Funny)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871053)

we just "lost" it for a while

I once was lost, but now I'm found.

like, perhaps we took our eye off the ball?

I once was blind, but now I see.

That said, there went my plan to spend all 48 hours of the last weekend on earth popping penguin mints and playing Halo 3. I guess I'll just have to do that this weekend instead.

Re:That Close! (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875643)

After the first 900 mg of caffeine, your kidneys will stop caring about it for a while. Popping penguin mints is a mostly psychological exercise as far as wakefulness goes.

Re:That Close! (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871093)

Or like maybe it went behind the sun and by that time it was too far away for us to locate it again.

Re:That Close! (1)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871177)

RTFS

Unfortunately, it then disappeared, or more precisely, was lost from view.
Presumably there was something blocking our view of it. Of course, I'm not going to RTFA to find out the details.

Re:That Close! (2, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871491)

thats fine.. TFA doesn't have any details..

Re:That Close! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871211)

won't hit the Earth anytime soon but bears watching

we just "lost" it for a while, like, perhaps we took our eye off the ball?


Well, if bears were watching then, maybe it slipped out of sight while they were busy trying to pilfer a pic-a-nic basket.

Re:That Close! (4, Funny)

bigpat (158134) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871327)

like, perhaps we took our eye off the ball?
If by "eye" you mean telescope and by "ball" you mean big chunk of rock and ice in space that could smack into the earth someday and kill everyone, then yes, like that.

Re:That Close! (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872055)

Oh my, we better put a nuke in the center of it. Perhaps we should go find an offshore oil crew and teach them how to work in space. Oh wait...never mind

Re:That Close! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20876377)

No one else saw that huge asteroid hanging almost motionless in the sky above the U.S. west coast one early spring night around 1:00PST (AM) in 1986, so it's perhaps believable that they could misplace another one.

Funny that no one else saw it and that no one at all was interested in it and then, all of a sudden, a few years later, they are all kinds of interested in that kind of stuff.

Learned that the night sky is not really black that night: It's more of a very deep, dark brown. Put something that's really BLACK in the sky and it's quite obvious.

Direct The Asteroid: +1, Helpful (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871031)

to this Terrorist [whitehouse.org] .

Patriotically,
K Trout

Re:Direct The Asteroid: +1, Helpful (-1, Offtopic)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871069)

Who needs asteroids? We have sharks!!! With friggin' lasers!!!

So close (2, Interesting)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871041)

it's still .7 units away. We just happen to know where it is now...

Re:So close (5, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871689)

Despite its current distance, it's important to note just how much a threat it could be. From TFA:

[During its first observation period (as 6344 P-L), its] orbit took it within .05 astronomical units (about 4,650,000 miles) of Earth's orbit

[It will be] making a reappearance this year as part of a 4.7-year orbit

Yes, this year it's going to be within 0.7 AU (~6.5 million miles), but it has a closest observed approach of 0.05 AU. For reference, it's useful to know that the term AU (Astronomical Unit [wikipedia.org] ) is derived from an approximation of the average distance of the Earth from the Sun (which is assigned the distance of 1 AU accordingly). Additionally, our moon averages at approximately 0.0025 AU from the Earth, so we're talking about an object which has passed within 2 moon-lengths from us during observation.

So:
  • Short orbit
  • Has passed close within the past 50 years
  • Dynamic path

Re:So close (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871759)

If your numbers are correct would that not be 20 moon lengths? 0.0025 * 2 = 0.005, not 0.05.

Re:So close (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871931)

Yeah, that should have been "20"... I guess I dropped the keystroke and didn't notice. Thanks for catching that.

Re:So close (2, Interesting)

sckeener (137243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871985)

so we're talking about an object which has passed within 2 moon-lengths from us during observation.

If it comes that close again, we should land something on it.

Re:So close (1)

daeley (126313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872931)

If it comes that close again, we should land something on it.

"Oh, man, check out that thing, man!"

"What do you want to do with it?"

"Let's launch over it!"

Re:So close (1)

Inthewire (521207) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875355)

Who wants a body massage?

Re:So close (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20883405)

Yes, this year it's going to be within 0.7 AU (~6.5 million miles),...

The article says .07 AU, not 0.7AU. Big difference (but your mileage is correct).

comet fragment (5, Funny)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871065)

> Further, they are not sure it is an actual asteroid, but actually a comet fragment

I don't know about you, but I would perfer to go extinict by asteroid rather than a puny comet fragement

Re:comet fragment (1)

slap20 (168152) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871251)

I agree,

Add me down for "death by asteroid"! Screw those wimpy comet fragments, you didn't see Dinosaur extinction being attributed to comet fragments! Besides, I think those sneaky comet fragments are up to something, I don't trust them one bit!

-Eric-

obPBF (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872097)

you didn't see Dinosaur extinction being attributed to comet fragments!
Obligatory Perry Bible Fellowship [pbfcomics.com] .

Re:comet fragment (1)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872133)

When you wish upon a falling star your dreams can come true. Unless it's really an asteroid hurtling towards Earth that will destroy all life as we know it - then you're pretty much screwed - unless you actually wished for death by asteroid.

Re:comet fragment (1)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871437)

I agree, but if we had the opportunity, I'd choose to be hit by a whole comet. An asteroid is just a rock, but a comet! That would be awesome.

I think the tail and the ice and everything would make for a much more enthralling death.

Re:comet fragment (1)

akasch (1159557) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871735)

I hear ya - bring on the big rock - I'm sure the Lord will remove his church first, later guys...

Re:comet fragment (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871853)

I'd kind of prefer to avoid the whole extinction thing, if you don't mind.

You take what you can get... (1)

vistic (556838) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874769)

99942 Apophis doesn't have the once-reported 1-in-36 chance of hitting us in 2029 anymore... now it's odds of hitting us [nasa.gov] in 2036 are pretty slim as well. It was a Torino scale 4, now it's zero.

The unofficial name (4, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871111)

for the asteroid/comet fragment is 'Waldo'.

Re:The unofficial name (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20880039)

Ah, that's where the Burmese monks went to.

(They appear to have gone missing)

Good (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871113)

Now they can help me find my keys

Re:Good (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871379)

Did you leave them on a comet fragment?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871787)

If I knew that, they wouldn't be lost.

Re:Good (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871797)

Good point. Well try tracing your steps. Where were you when you last remember having your keys? Were you near a comet?

Re:Good (2, Funny)

Blahgerton (1083623) | more than 6 years ago | (#20873187)

Were you near a comet?
On an astronomical scale.

Re:Good (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876821)

I'm pretty sure NASA exploded the keys [nasa.gov] , dude.

Re:Good (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872065)

You really want them to help you find your keys?
Ok, don't blame me when it takes them 40 years.

I'm getting worried (-1, Offtopic)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871207)

First the Cubs and Red Sox in the playoffs, and now this.

Re:I'm getting worried (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871441)

Are you insinuating that the Red Sox in the playoffs is some sort of surprise?

They made it in from 2003-2005 (also kind of winning a World Series in there) and were leading the AL East for pretty much the whole season.

If there is a playoff team that is the harbinger... the Rockies are the ones that foretell Ragnarok.

Re:I'm getting worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872223)

If there is a playoff team that is the harbinger... the Rockies are the ones that foretell Ragnarok.

Since they were founded in 1993, that would be 14 years without making the playoffs. Surely you are not claiming that the Red Sox have never gone that long without making the playoffs, are you?

Re:I'm getting worried (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872351)

2003 called. They want their impending Apocalypse back.

Don't worry... (1)

M0nk-e (1104673) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874669)

... Chuck Norris will roundhouse kick that big rock right back into space.

Bears Watching? (2, Funny)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871261)

Why are the Bears Watching this? The Chicago ones or Black Bears? If Stephen Colbert hears about that, he's gonna FLIP!

Re:Bears Watching? (1)

slap20 (168152) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871333)

Damn right he's going to flip. Whats the biggest threat to America than asteroids or comet fragments??

Thats right... BEARS!!

Re:Bears Watching? (1)

aqk (844307) | more than 6 years ago | (#20879787)

Actually they are our distant listing posts, Ursa Major and Minor!

They have since relayed this info to the Enterprise:
"Sulu, plot me a. Course towards that. Potential threat. To Earth. We're going. To whack it."
"Certainly, Captain! If any asteroid blows Earth away, I want it to be mine!"


Re:Bears Watching? (1)

aqk (844307) | more than 6 years ago | (#20879881)

I thought you already knew!
Actually those 'bears' refer to our distant listening posts, Ursa Major and Minor!

They have since relayed this info to the Enterprise:
"Sulu, plot me a- Course towards that- Potential threat- To Earth. We're going- To whack it."
"Certainly, Captain! If any asteroid is going to blow Earth away, I want it to be mine!"


I'm getting tired of this... (4, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871317)

Can't we just get whacked by a planetkiller and be done with it? Think of the benefits:

Global warming made irrelevant.

Overpopulation? Not anymore.

Think of it as God (or the FSM) saying "Aww, fuck it" and hitting the reset button.

Re:I'm getting tired of this... (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871391)

Can it wait just a little bit longer? I swear I'm just about to get mod points.

Re:I'm getting tired of this... (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875975)

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy...genius!!

Just had a close call myself... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872415)

Took me a while to parse "FSM". Asking would no doubt have brought in a slew of wikipedia references (that would subsequently be modded "informative") and several rounds of "You must be new here".

Just another load of frop that I didn't need...

Re:Just had a close call myself... (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874629)

Hello friend,

Pardon me for asking, but what is this "wikipedia references" you mention? I'm I'm new around here myself, and would appreciate your assistance.

Re:I'm getting tired of this... (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875993)

Some more benefits:

We won't have to hear any more of those absurd end-of-days prophecies.
I won't have to wait for Spore anymore. I can be one!
The underground scene will totally thrive.

Black or brown bears? (1)

crivens (112213) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871393)

Didn't realise bears were into astronomy!

OT: slashdot, allright (4, Interesting)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871429)

I'll be off topic, but I still have to say, it's not even funny anymore when I see this story got tagged as: science, space, linuxbites, linuxisinsecure, linuxsucks Get a grip already.

Re:OT: slashdot, allright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871531)

I seriously agree. These troll-tags are a hinderance to my enjoyment of this not-so-fine-anymore establishment. They should just get rid of the tags completely they just get abused. Also, searching was fine in the past (before tag-fagging[web2.0 has shit to do with tags grow-up]).

Re:OT: slashdot, allright (2, Interesting)

Born2bwire (977760) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871851)

Well, we already moderate the comments so I guess we need to start moderating the tags. But then we need to moderate the people that moderate the tags because we already moderate the comment moderators. But then who moderates those that moderate the moderators? You know, this site wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the posters.

Re:OT: slashdot, allright (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874703)

How did you know I have lame 90's rock posters on my wall? And how come there bothering you anyway? At least their better than my sister, she has kittens and unicorns posters.

Re:OT: slashdot, allright (2, Informative)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871925)

You can help remove the tags by adding "!" sign before the tags. So, I tagged the story as "!linuxbites !linuxisinsecure !linuxsucks"

Re:OT: slashdot, allright (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875203)

Preferences -> Tags -> Show Tags: Off

Tags were an interesting novelty for a day or two when they came out, but they don't provide nearly enough value to justify themselves.

Re:OT: slashdot, allright (1)

mstahl (701501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20876565)

I figured it should be tagged "dudewheresmyasteroid"

We'll show it who's boss. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871443)

I say we get up there and tear the damn thing's tail off. [slashdot.org] It's the only way to really deal with a comet.

Tags (-1, Offtopic)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871505)

Can someone please do something about this tagging? They're being used to mark things with opinions not with a better way to search for things. For example the current tags are.

linuxbites, linuxisinsecure, linuxsucks

How is that related to this article at all?

Re:Tags (1)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871631)

Perhaps Steve Ballmer has an active interest in astronomy.

Asteroid collisions are like hard disks crashes (4, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871527)

Asteroid collisions are like hard disks crashes. May it happen? Yes, in theory. But the chance that it will actually happen is extremely low. So it is not something to be so worried abo#`%${%&+'$`%& NO CARRIER

Re:Asteroid collisions are like hard disks crashes (1)

MK_CSGuy (953563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872689)

Asteroid collisions are like hard disks crashes. May it happen? Yes, in theory. But the chance that it will actually happen is extremely low

I hope you're wrong, considering the fact I just had 2 drives go dead on the last month :'(

It reappeared because it heard that (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20871541)

names were being given out for stellar humans...

do none of you watch movies? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20871601)

Of COURSE they're saying it isn't going to hit Earth. What else can they say? If they tell us the truth, which is that they found it because it's going to slam into the Earth before the end of month, there would be mass panic, lawlessness, total anarchy.

I've been observing it since they found it, and I just did some quick calculations using Excel, and I can confirm that it IS going to hit Earth.

Re:do none of you watch movies? (4, Funny)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 6 years ago | (#20872021)

I've been observing it since they found it, and I just did some quick calculations using Excel, and I can confirm that it IS going to hit Earth.
You are probably using Excel 2003 or earlier. The astronomers are using Excel 2007 [slashdot.org] .

Re:do none of you watch movies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20872349)

Well, if you're predictions say it will hit Earth on March 10, 2187, I wouldn't be too worried.

I saw a meteor skip off the moon in early 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20873207)

And named it "Skippy".

Is this the missing meteor?

There's also a nice new scar on the moon's left side if anyone is paying attention any more.

In fact the video was traded around on P2P for a while (recorded by someone else)

Obligatory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20873315)

No Such Asteroid.

Just blink (1)

pchoppin (864344) | more than 6 years ago | (#20874613)

So the solution to any object on a (near) collision course to earth is for the astronomers observing the object to just blink. In astronomic terms, a blink would be enough time to loose track of the object. By the time they found it again, it would simply have missed us.

Two comments: (1)

rbrander (73222) | more than 6 years ago | (#20875707)

1) Well of COURSE it "bears watching". They're ASTRONOMERS, they think EVERYTHING in space "bears watching".

2) I really love the metaphor Bill Bryson made (in "A Short History of Everything", hugely recommended) -

        "An asteroid passing between us and the moon is like a bullet passing through your shirt sleeve without quite touching the skin".

Ah, 4.7 yearsn, that explains... (1)

Mr. Dop (708162) | more than 6 years ago | (#20879451)

Jose Arguelles forecast using the Mayan Calendar [wikipedia.org] that a cataclysm will take place in 2012.
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